Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Varshaa: Rain Melodies




In one of his stories, the celebrated Malayalam writer T. Padmanabhan writes of a man who loves to listen to the sounds of rain so much that he takes a cassette of rain-sounds with him abroad. When he feels homesick, he listens to the sounds of rain- the sudden outburst, the pitter patter of rain on the roof, on the ground and to the sounds of occasional thunderbolts. The rain has always held a fascination for artists and is a constantly celebrated theme in Indian literature and films. 

The theme of the rain is explored by the artists Jason J.Nair and Aby in Varshaa: Rain Melodies, a collection of five rain melodies that inspire both creativity and nostalgia. Though it bursts on you unawares and creates plenty of inconvenience, the rain serves as a muse or a source of inspiration for many writers and artistes. The rain pitter-pattering outside, the sound of thunderbolts flashes of thunder across the sky, the wait for the rains symbolised by the dance of the peacocks or the memories of getting drenched unexpectedly, there are so many threads that come together on listening to these rain melodies.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

From Your Valentine (2)














I wake up to the sounds of shouts in the street. It sounds like a huge crowd rushing and trembling. There are sounds of women everywhere. I wonder when my agony will be over before or after the festival. Today is the festival of Lupercalia, dedicated to the god of fertility. 


The women folk must be out in the streets, dressed in white for the ceremonial sprinkling of animal blood on their bodies. Julia might be there too waiting for her chance for her name to be picked by her prospective groom from the urn of good luck.

I could hear the prayers from the sacred caves breaking the silence of early morning. The chants were audible as they were repeated by the women folk everywhere, from the hills to the valleys for begetting children and for good crops this year. 


The huge doors are opened and I see Julia before me not Asterius or his soldiers. I am too dumbfounded for words. I’m surprised that in the midst of the festival, she has come to see me. Dressed in white, she looks more like a ghost than a real person. 


It takes me some time to ask her why she has not gone for the festival near the caves of Romulus and Remus, the founding fathers of the nation. She replies in a low voice: Everyone has gone for the festival and I have stolen the keys so that I could come and see you. You need to hurry because there is a horse ready for you. You can run away from here and from death. 


No, I cannot. I am a priest and I cannot break the trust that your father has showed on me, I mumble. She is not convinced and comes near me. Though it is quite dark in my prison cell, I can see her face and she looks pale. It takes me sometime to understand that she may not have recovered fully from the disease that almost took her life away. She holds on to my arm and caresses it with her long delicate fingers. 


Not any longer. You are not a priest any longer. You are freed through a royal order that might in fact gain you a death worse than that of a criminal. It is better that you run away for your life. As for my father, he might forgive you because you saved my life, because he sees you as a good man. You are to be executed in the morning without any blessings from a priest. There is no time to lose. 


That shocks me because I am still a priest though I might have disobeyed Claudius and his orders. There were many couples that I had married off disobeying the order of compulsory bachelorhood for all soldiers. I have seen the women cry when their men left for war. Nor was I fool not to read in Julia’s eyes, the same flash of love though I have never been with her. 


Suddenly, there is an alarm raised and I see that the prison guards are on their way back. I snatch Julia by the hand and we run as fast as we can through the empty corridors. She leads the way and by the time we reach where the place where the horse is tied, we can see crowds of people, all splattered with blood on their clothes and crops back from the festival of Lupercal. 

To be continued...

From Your Valentine (1)






The night is quite cold. Even my bones can feel the chill of this February night. I don’t know what hour it is. Judging from the little glimpse from my barred window, it must be three hours past midnight. 


The morning is hours away and before I go to face my death, I need to see her just one last time. Julia, the daughter of the jailer Asterius will know about it for sure. Asterius thinks highly of me; so does Julia. If not for that herbal potion from my medicine bag, she would have died of high fever. 


 I’m no hero only a priest who became one to give praise to the Lord. But in the reign of the mighty Claudius, I dared to marry off young couples who loved each other. I defied an emperor who wanted all men to join armies and not to settle down in life. I think God will forgive me for what I have done for I know what it is to be in love.  


When she came to see me after her recovery, it seemed like Julia’s eyes had stars in them. She brought sweet pomegranates for me. I am sure this must have been the forbidden fruit that once tempted Adam and Eve. After that I haven’t slept a wink for her eyes have haunted me with their bright-eyed despair. 


Despite the sleepless nights, I don’t feel tired at all. The only thing that is before me is her lovely face. Nothing else. The young ones keep on throwing notes and flowers at my window. Here and there, I have seen her hand too. In the eyes of the world, I am a sinner for marrying off young lovers. But here, on the last day of my life, I regret the fact that I met my Julia too late. It is already dawn and I must write a farewell note to her and seal it with my purple amethyst ring: 


My Julia, 

My love, from the day I saw you smile,
From the very day you came to see me;
Don’t cry for me when I am gone away
For the merciful god will bring us together.

This letter I seal with my amethyst ring
For what you meant to me in these hours,
How dawn has come with your bright face
And taken away the strife of long years.

How I long to hold your hand in mine,
Or say one word expecting your smile,
How late have I come to know you dear
I regret on this last day of my life.

Our loyal hearts will sing in heaven
Though not in this life but eternal. 


From Your Valentine

To be continued...

Monday, February 13, 2017

Eternal love



The morning was beautiful. She woke up early even before the alarm clock started ringing. A miracle.Usually it woke up her neighbors before it did her with the continuous music. She always made the alarm as  part of the background  of her dream. This deafness to alarms resulted in her getting up late every day.  
This day was different. She could feel it in the soft freshness of the morning air. From the balcony, she viewed the morning air with surprise. Could this be the day when he would come to her? She had a lot of intuition about these things and felt hopeful. 
She couldn’t believe that this is the same city crowded with protesters over something over the other in the daytime. The white building of the state looked lovely this morning. Not even a single sound. 
She stood there for sometime.  She heard the hooting of a distant train. What silence. Only a few people like the newspaper boys moved here and there. She decided to go on a morning walk. She changed her clothes and was out walking in a few minutes.
It was not yesterday that he left the city. She didnt know here he was.  If he was here, she will see him on the morning walk across the park. What all things I want to tell you, my dear? But the situation was not as hopeless as she made it to be. 
He was just a phone call away. But what prevented her was her shyness, what if they become lovers? She couldn’t face him. Still she resolved to tell him how much he means to her, that not a day passes without his thoughts and that she would do anything to have him in her life even as a friend. 
It was this obsession, that feeling that there was something between them that was unique, something that happened only once in a lifetime, that magic that will never happen again if she lost him.She knew that from the first day that she met him, that there was something about him that she loved beyond words, through her silences.

Memories came and visited her. What was this madness that never let her spend a day without thinking about him? Every day was like this-thoughtfulness, indecisiveness and finally sobbing just before going to sleep, hugging the pillow. Night time was for writing down what all preposterous things he meant to her, while morning took all these thoughts away. 
Obsessed with him, she felt that this came out of her denial of some natural feeling towards him. At times, she had this gut feeling that it was mutual; he also felt the same. But then what?

Even that day in the rain was evidence to this. They were sitting in that coffee shop sipping hot coffee when she said in half jest" let’s walk in the rain". Before she could even think, he’d got up and was out in the rain. There was another couple who walked before them, hugging each other closely and for a moment she wanted to walk with him like that.
"Look at them", she said. They shied away from each other thought they were closely aware of each other. That night, she was a little crazy as she wrote about those little things in her diary. Suddenly, her phone rang. Strangely it was not him but her fiancé, who had called.

“What happened to you? You don’t speak soft to me anymore? You speak like a stranger, nowadays”. She knew that she didn’t do this deliberately, for her fiancé meant the world to her. Five years is not a short period of time and with every passing year and the distance that separated them, they had stuck together supporting each other everyday. 
On days of idleness, he would call her and ask her to study for her exams, for which they were appearing together. That exam meant a lot to both of them. Now both are lost and that too because of her foolishness. She could understand losing her new friend or obsession but her fiancé that was like saying drawing a boundary can make land into two nations. 
Still this morning she felt hopeful. Her life would have an answer, not this endless maze of problems, coming one after the other. She couldn’t call him and ask him to come and meet her. May be a real meeting can cure her obsession. It made her nervous, the thought of meeting him. 
She dreaded even that thought but that’s what she always wanted to do. Each and every day, she wanted this meeting, this resolution of her confusions but nothing happened. She went and sat at her favourite place in the park, on the stone-bench beneath that chempaka tree. The flowers gave off an intoxicating fragrance. Her phone rang. Her fiancé.

“Why are you not talking to me? You remember this date. This was the day when I proposed to you way back in college. What has come over you?”
“So? She asked.
“With marriage in December, how can you be playing such games?”.

“What if I don’t want to marry you?”
“Now dear, please be careful. If that’s what you wish, it’s fine with me. But what about the parents? What are you going to tell them?”
“That I will do, you don’t have to worry”.

While she was talking, she saw someone familiar walking towards her. That was him. She cut the phone and ran towards him. “Where were you? I was worried!”He smiled and put his arms around her. She was sobbing so hard. She couldn’t control herself. He  held her close. He moved his face close to hers and kissed her. First kiss. 
All her desperation was gone. The agony over whether she will meet him or not, the pain of his absence and her repressing her all feelings, everything was gone. He took her on a long drive in the city before driving to the beach far from the city. She chatted about all the things that had happened in his absence.“Where do you want to go now? He asked her.“The beach. I love the seashore, though it makes me serious about life”, she replied. 
He smiled and kissed her again. She responded fully to his desires and glowed in his love. “Don’t go anywhere again”, she pleaded. At the beach, they stayed in the water, hand in hand. The evening sky was tinted red. The ochre light of the evening, with that secluded beach made him daring enough to kiss her in the open. 
“I love you baby. I will never leave you alone”, he said. He led her to towards the sea, into the deeper waters. Now she became afraid. He hugged her tight and laughed aloud with each thrashing wave that splashed against them.  

She decided to speak to her parents when she got home. Her marriage could wait; she wanted to be sure herself whom was that she loved more, her fiance or the one whom she found anew. It was her dream come true and she thought that she did choose right.Looking at the lights, what she felt was that this was a very special day of her life.


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Priceless



There were times when I have struggled a balance between my dreams of material wealth and spiritual happiness. Not that there were many possessions, a bare room that looked more like a scholar's study than a girl's bedroom but there was always a need to keep it spick and span.

There was this craving for possessions later always caused by an awareness of a lack looking at the wealthy and the rich. Then now, when it is possible to have possessions and objects that one wants, this strange heart wants nothing but to be left at peace, to know the wisdom of simplicity and of keeping away from needless clutter.

It wants not to learn the price of new desirables but to keep against its heart the priceless value of timeworn possessions, worn-out words, tired dreams and old loves of words, coffee, wine, music and  you.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Wisdom

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You were a wanderer who left behind your hometown to start a new life, to prove yourself in the eyes of your near and dear ones. I was a dreamer who could listen with wonder to your ramblings and walk with you everywhere, one who could go places without leaving my favourite armchair. 

In the many years of absence, you and I travelled together across many exotic lands. From these wanderings, we have gathered so much of wisdom and have arrived at a place of mutual understanding. How we have changed in our lives holding close only values that which matter to both you and me!

In the long years you have been away, I have glimpsed you in many forms but not in real but I still remember your tenacity in sticking to your dreams and nothing else. For me, who have lately started following your footsteps, the world looks new and vistas inviting. 

May be this is not a dream at all but a piece taken out of tattered lives like yours and mine, but when these words come to fruition, it is more perfect than anything else heard, felt or seen.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Togetherness


It was good to see them together after their scars faded away. It was forever, she thought when she had etched his name on her heart, the palms of her hands in a mehndi design or on every scrap of paper that she came across. 

Destiny said otherwise and the one that smiled with love at her was even more smitten. In the meantime, this first love was forgotten. But after a lapse of a few years,  look at their chemistry, it looks magical, like out of a dream. 

In her eyes that look up to him, in his smile slightly older but contented, in their perfect blend together, there is this miracle that after a battle of egos, the magic that makes a breakup look unreal. 


Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Hiraeth

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It was as if a long-forgotten dream had flashed right in front of my eyes that evening. A glimpse of that last day in December when you I saw you last, the day we spent hours at the bookstore just because you wanted to buy me a book, the last time you had held me close and the day you left so as to make our dream true.

What I saw was none of these but an opulent durbar, the dancers and the audience who were screaming praises of my own name when I looked at my demure queen with a quiet pride knowing her to be mine only. There she was, smiling at me. Though veiled, the silhouette of her cheeks could be seen against her red veil. 

As we walked side by side, the crowds roared. We climbed those ancient steps and looked in the huge mirrors as if it was part of an old dream, as if two broken pieces were put together in a perfect shape for an instant. With a strange wonder, I recognised an old home, a place of no return, one that I lost long back return as we stand chattering inside a palace that gives a strange sense of having lived here long before.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Leaves in his hair

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The tiny yellow leaves in his grey hair made me feel a stange tenderness for him. To run my fingers through his hair and to feel a strange closeness that hit me like a thunderstorm, the first time I gazed into his eyes.

May be it was because he was waiting under the trees, may be because though he said he didn't wait much, but his eyes flickered with a strange delight when he heard my footsteps. When he looked up every time, it was like I could hear the roar of the thunderstorm.

I don't think I need much except this roar of the thunderstorm daily.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Mine

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If I hadn't met you, I would not have known what it meant to be in love, the meaning of three little words, which you used to say so effortlessly daily when it has taken me ages to even utter those little words.

If I hadn't known you, I would never have understood what true companionship meant, the nights spent all talking, watching movies and fighting like hell.

If I hadn't loved you, I would never have known this sinking feeling that comes when I hear someome criticise you though you are no longer mine to own or to defend.

Memories

Your sky blue shirt with chocolate stains, your cheeks that were smudged daily with my parting kiss, your eyes that lately were filled with a longing beyond words; 

The songs at midnight, how you croon the blues, then in those amazing days the things that you did to please me and made me sing those melodies that make you laugh. 

These eyes that never meet yours scared of what you see in them, afraid of what it knows to be true, too shy to show what it really want to say in words, despite of your pestering. 

May be, it means all the things that you don't want me to say and you don't want to say either because of strange misgivings. 

But when you say those three little words, it's like magic and the world lights up in zero time. 

Friday, February 03, 2017

Deja Vu






Image : www.keralaholidays.com
 

I don't think I have been to this place before but as I look around I get a feeling of deja vu. The blue waters and the houseboats look a very familiar sight, a place I might have been to many times.

May be if I stayed around, the waves might tell me from whose dreams I stole you, through whose heart I heard the song of a home of rest ahead. May be if I stayed around, it might tell me more about you, the one I might want to hear more about.

I am so immersed in the trance of the blue waters that I hardly see a stranger smiling at me. May be that's my answer or may be not.

Angst

Your words fill my heart with a strange emotion; it’s like seeing me in a mirror, a million crossroads ago. The words bring new possi...